Ravens release Dennis Pitta after major hip injury

Releasing Pitta a business decision for Ravens (1:20)

NFL Live breaks down the Ravens' decision to release Dennis Pitta. (1:20)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Dennis Pitta was released by the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday, five days after the veteran tight end reinjured his right hip, the team announced.

This move clears $2.5 million in much-needed salary-cap space for the Ravens, who could look to add a wide receiver in the coming days. Baltimore didn't have to give an injury settlement to Pitta because he signed a waiver after fracturing his hip in 2013 and 2014.

This is a potentially career-ending injury for Pitta, who led all NFL tight ends last season with 86 catches. In Friday's offseason practice, he hurt his hip without any contact, falling to the ground after trying to make a catch.

Quarterback Joe Flacco is now without three of his top four targets from last season: Pitta (released), wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (retired) and fullback Kyle Juszczyk (signed with 49ers in free agency).

The Ravens now have only one player (wide receiver Mike Wallace) who had more than 34 catches last season, which increases the need to add a receiver such as recently released veteran Jeremy Maclin or likely to be released veteran Eric Decker.

Maclin is traveling to Baltimore on Wednesday to visit with the Ravens after a two-day visit with the Buffalo Bills, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. The New York Jets aren't planning to release Decker on Wednesday, as they are still hoping to find a trade partner to deal the receiver, a source told Schefter.

The only healthy tight ends currently on the team are Nick Boyle, Crockett Gillmore and recently signed Ryan Malleck. Benjamin Watson (Achilles) and Maxx Williams (knee) are expected to be back for training camp after surgeries, and Darren Waller is dealing with an undisclosed injury.

Pitta decided to return last season even though he knew he could dislocate his hip at any time.

"You could talk all day about what the risks are," Pitta said before the 2016 season. "There will always be people that say I'm crazy and don't understand why I would put myself at risk. But to those people you say, 'We all put ourselves at risk playing football.'"